The students of Cycle 2 Drama sat in the auditorium and talked while waiting for Mr. Weir to arrive. Sarah was informing Mel, Steph and Marla of Cerise’s predicament with Terry and they were all advising her to remain friendly but not too friendly and to wait for him to approach her but then to make the first move. None of the advice was remotely helpful but Cerise was glad to have girlfriends with whom to discuss the matter.
When Mr. Weir entered he asked Sarah if the bell had run and she responded in the affirmative.
“So what does that mean?” he asked with a tight-lipped smile.
“That we should sit down and shut up?”
“I can always count on your to provide the correct answer.”
Everyone sat on the stage while Mr. Weir surveyed them, silently taking roll-call on his clipboard. Karine raised her hand.
“Since we’re gonna be studying A Midsummer Night’s Dream in English class does that mean that’s the play we’re doing this year?”
Weir congratulated Karine on her observational skills and confirmed her supposition. While the auditions would be open to the entire school, Mr. Weir was obviously going to give preferential treatment to those in Drama. Everyone in class would get a role of some kind, even if just as a background fairy. Karine asked when the auditions would be held and Mr. Weir said he hadn’t decided yet, though he promised to keep her informed. He went on to talk about all the good roles in the play and how fantastic Shakespeare was and how he was counting on them to deliver excellent performances. Cerise wondered if she could work up the nerve to audition for Titania or if she should just try for a background fairy.
Fall was so awesome. Karine loved crunching leaves under her feet as she walked outside during autumn. It was kind of like eating chips; not so much about the taste as the texture and the fun crunching sound. She was in an excellent mood when she got home that day and when Steven came over Karine grabbed him eagerly and planted a kiss on his lips.
“What’s got you so worked up?” Steven asked with a grin, inching towards the stairwell.
Karine led him to the den. “We’re doing A Midsummer Night’s Dream this year!”
“The school play!”
“Oh. Isn’t that Shakespeare?”
“Well duh. Mr. Weir always chooses Shakespeare. He’s like, obsessed. But A Midsummer Night’s Dream is like, his best play ever. I mean, if you like the comedies.”
“Ok,” said Steve while turning on the TV.
“It’s about fairies and stuff. Maybe I’ll get like a really cool costume. I’m gonna try out to be Titania. She’s the queen of the fairies. Although maybe I should try out for
. I think she has the most lines of all the female characters. But I’m not really sure. Who would you consider like, the main character?” Helena
“I dunno.” He flipped through the channels.
“I guess it’s Puck. I wonder if a girl can be Puck.”
“Listen, I have a game this Thursday.”
“So you gonna come?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I have to read the play and figure out who has the most lines. And then I have to prepare my monologue for the audition.”
“When are the auditions?”
“I don’t know yet but I have to be prepared.”
“You’ll have plenty of time. It’s an important game.”
“Well I might have to work.”
“I don’t know my hours yet for this week.”
“Well if you’re not working will you come?”
“When is it?”
“Thursday. At 7.”
“We’re playing Loyola. In NDG.”
“What? Are you serious? NDG? That’s like a bus, the metro and then another bus. It’s like a two-hour trip!”
“Can’t you take your mom’s car?”
“Do you see her car in the driveway? She has it with her! She’s in
or something. And I don’t even have a license, you moron!” Toronto
“Well maybe you can ride with us on the school bus.”
“They’re not gonna let random people on your bus! God, Steven. I can’t go if it’s downtown.”
“I’d do it for you,” Steven said sadly.
“Oh really? It’s easy to say that when I’m not asking you to do anything like that, isn’t it?”
“Like it’s such a big deal? You go downtown all the time when you go clubbing with Erica. Why is this so different?”
“’Cause clubbing is actually fun!”
Karine felt slightly regretful when Steven got that wounded puppy look.
“Ok fine, don’t go. Whatever.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Listen, I gotta go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Karine didn’t bother trying to make up with Steve. She let him leave and treid to read her script but after a while she phoned Terry.
“’Sup?” he answered.
“Do you think I’m selfish?” Karine asked.
“So what you want me to say is no.”
“You’re so useless!” she whined.
“Ok, ok. What do you mean?”
“I think I’m a bad girlfriend.”
Karine waited while Terry laughed. “What do you expect?” he finally asked. “You have a lame boyfriend.”
“He wants me to go to his game on Thursday. In NDG!”
“I hate taking public transport. It’s totally gross. Am I selfish ‘cause I don’t wanna go?”
“Karine, no one would want to go to a stupid high school football game unless they were like, American and like, enjoyed Thanksgiving and stuff. It doesn’t mean you’re selfish. It means you’re sane.”
“Ok then you’re British instead of American. Whatever. It’s still lame. Actually, rugby’s a pretty cool game.”
“No it isn’t! It’s boring! But that’s not even the point!”
“What is the point?”
“I hurt Steve’s feelings.”
Terry chuckled. “He’ll get over it.”
“Like I even care.”
“Yeah, apparently. God Karine, relax. He’ll get over it. He’s spineless. And if he doesn’t… whatever. Who cares?”
“Yeah well… my options aren’t so many as they used to be, eh? Now that you’re all obsessed with Cherry girl.”
Terry was silent.
“Yeah. Listen, you think too much.”
“What do you mean?”
“You’re just like, way overthinking this.”
“You think so?”
“See what I mean?”
Terry sighed. “You act like it matters. It doesn’t. I mean we all die in the end anyway.”
“Jesus, since when are you such a fatalist?”
“Are we done yet?”
“Oh gee, I’m so sorry to be keeping you from your regularly scheduled masturbation!”
Terry chuckled good-naturedly. “Don’t worry, I can multitask.”
“Ok, so, are you ok?”
“Are you gonna break up with what’s his name again?”
“You think I should?”
“Do what you want, Karine. Either way I’m sure you’ll complain to me about it.”
“Oh fuck you! Fine, goodbye!”
“Wait Karine! I’m sorry. Go ahead, keep complaining.”
Terry chuckled and Karine imagined his smile.
“So you ok?” he asked.
“I still don’t know if I should go to Steven’s game.”
“Listen, I’ll drive you if you want.”
“Sure, if you really wanna go. I mean our team fucking sucks. We’re sure to get pummeled but whatever, I don’t mind watching a game.”
“I suppose you’ll try to make it a double date and bring Cherry the Raspberry.”
Karine could practically hear him smirking.
Terry went on. “Especially since it means so much to you.”
“There’s gotta be a reason you care so much about Cerise. She must have something going on if you hate her so much.”
“Like even,” Karine scoffed.
“Sounds like you’re the one who’s obsessed with her. I gotta find out what all the fuss is about.”
God damn it! Screw Terry and his stupid obsession with Cherry the Raspberry.
Cerise was the last to join the boys for gaming and she was also the last to leave. She lingered at the door while the others went on their way.
“Do you think I should make an effort with Shauna?” she asked Jay.
“Jay! Her name is Shauna!”
“I thought you hated her.”
“She could have died. I feel bad.”
“Yes really. Is it so inconceivable that I might have feelings about this?”
“I guess not. You are a girl.”
Cerise punched Jay in the arm.
“You punch like a girl.”
“Should I avert my eyes while you cradle your arm in agony?”
“But seriously, Jay, do you think I’m a bad person? Am I like, mean?”
“Well you did just hit me. Domestic violence is not ok, Cerise.”
“I’m talking about Shauna!”
“Well yeah, I guess you were mean to her.”
“Should I like, visit her and stuff? I hear she’s still in the hospital.”
“And do what? Apologize?”
“You think I should apologize?”
“God! You’re really not very good at giving advice, are you?”
“I guess not,” Jay shrugged.
Unbelievable. Cerise had no idea why she still liked Jay. He was seriously useless.
Shauna’s plan to die in the hospital hadn’t panned out. She’d imagined how badly everyone would feel once she was dead, once they’d all murdered her with their assholishness. Cerise would come to the funeral in a tight black dress and black stockings and black high heels and she’d even have a little black hat on. There might even be a veil over her face so no one could see her crying. She’d be very sorry that Shauna was dead and she might even collapse on the coffin and be lowered into the ground with Shauna’s rotting corpse.
Unfortunately Shauna had made a stunning recovery. Her skin was back to normal and the pain was gone. Her throat was healed and she could talk. She was released from the hospital and apparently it was really great that she could go back to school. The thought of it made her ill but to her dismay it wasn’t the kind of ill her mother could perceive because she found herself getting out of bed, getting dressed, stepping onto the school bus, getting off the bus, and walking towards the school one cold Monday morning during the last week of October.
Obviously she thought about running away but even her legs betrayed her and she walked to the side entrance of the school, walking past the smokers’ wall as she went.
“Oh my god, it fucking reeks, what is that?” The head cuntnugget said loudly.
“Dude, it smells like a porta-potty!” Andrew Lester laughed.
They all laughed as Shauna went into the building. Everyone stared at her and laughed and called her Porta-potty chick. She dreaded approaching her locker, not wanting to run into Wendy. She looked around the corner first to make sure she wasn’t there. Feeling relatively safe, she went to her locker and stuffed her lunch inside. When she closed the door, Wendy was there. Fucking stealth.
Shauna tried to ignore her but Wendy stuck something into her hand. Shauna pulled away and the bag fell to the floor. It was a baggie full of what Shauna could only assume was pot. Wendy picked it up.
“Special price for you, half off,” said Wendy. “Twenty bucks.”
Shauna considered punching Wendy in the face, or ripping the bag out of her hands and spilling the contents everywhere or stealing the bag and killing Wendy with her bare hands. Instead she reached into her pocket and found a twenty, exchanging it for the pot. Then she bought some rolling papers as well.
She knew she wouldn’t go to class. She went to the bathroom instead. She rolled up a joint and smoked it in a stall. She could hear people coming and going and they all commented on the smell of pot. Some girls looked under the stalls, trying to figure out who was smoking, but no one really cared that much. The bell rang and eventually it rang again. Shauna got tired of standing in the stall and tried to open a window, which proved futile. She gave up and sat on the floor, rolling herself another joint. Girls came and went and they all gave her weird looks as she smoked. Some even called her Porta-potty chick. She just kept smoking until she didn’t care anymore, which required the entire bag.
She wasn’t sure what time it was when Cerise came into the bathroom. She stopped dead in her tracks and stared at Shauna. Shauna stared back, exhaling smoke. She’d run out of pot by now and was smoking a regular cigarette. Cerise coughed and waved her hand in front of her face. The bathroom was like the inside of a hookah bar.
Cerise took a step forward and then coughed again. She pulled her hoodie sleeve over her hand and placed it over her mouth. “I’m sorry,” she choked out.
Shauna stared at her and blew smoke rings.
“Sorry,” she said again and then left.
Maybe Cerise would die from second hand smoke.
Cerise coughed loudly as she rushed out of the washroom. She walked down the hallway and went to the bathroom that was near administration, past the fishbowl. Cerise never really hung out in the fishbowl. It was full of yucky old furniture and Karine Cavalière type bitches.
When she was done in the bathroom she walked back to her locker and she could sense someone following her. The smell of smoke was still in her nose. What if Shauna was stalking her again? What if she wanted to be friends? What if she didn’t?
Cerise reached her locker and slowly turned around. To her great relief, Terry Trebichavsky was smiling down at her.
“Hey,” he grinned.
“Hi,” she smiled back.
Suddenly his smile disappeared and gentle frown lines appeared at his brow. “Are you ok?”
“Yeah,” she lied.
“No you’re not.”
“Oh, you know me so well?” she tried to joke.
“No, but I’m not blind. You’re obviously upset. What’s wrong?” His arm rose and his hand brushed Cerise’s shoulder, then softly stroked her arm.
She looked up at him in wonder. “Nothing, it’s just that stupid girl.”
“What stupid girl?”
“Shauna. You know, that girl I bitched out at the party.”
“Oh, Porta-potty chick?”
“I really wish people wouldn’t call her that. It’s so mean.”
“Yeah, but what do you expect?”
“It’s just that, I mean, yeah she’s a spaz, but she seriously could have died. It’s like a major thing and it’s my fault ‘cause I was so bitchy…” Cerise trailed off as she could feel tears beginning to develop in her eyes.
God, how mortifying. She tried to turn away but Terry immediately enveloped her in his arms and held her. She rested her head against his chest and her tears stained his shirt. He gently rubbed her back with his left hand while his right hand stroked her hair. Only a couple of drops had fallen from Cerise’s eyes and she no longer felt sad but she faked a few choked breaths so he would keep holding her. It felt amazing to be in his arms. He was so strong and yet so gentle and warm and cuddly. She felt herself pressing her body into his and then quickly pulled away in embarrassment.
“I got your shirt wet,” she said, looking up at his gorgeous face.
He chuckled. “It’s no big. Are you ok?”
“Yeah, sorry to spaz out.”
“It’s ok. You know, it’s not your fault she got locked up in shit. Yeah, you were mean to her but from the way you describe her it sounds like she deserved it. And it was the Glue Sniffers that pushed her in the porta-potty, not you. She came to the party with them and no matter what you said she prob’ly woulda left with them too. It prob’ly woulda happened no matter what.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
“And you got rid of her, right? I mean is she still trying to be your friend?”
“Then everything worked out good.”
“Not for her.”
“Yeah well I don’t care about her. I care about you.”
Cerise was positive that her heart had stopped. She held her breath and waited for it to keep beating. Terry’s hand was reaching for her’s. He stroked her palm with his index finger and she was almost sure the world had stopped turning.
“You know what you need to do is something fun. Do you like to play pool?”
“What? Pool? I dunno, I’ve never played.”
“Well I can teach you.”
“Ok.” At this point Cerise was willing to learn anything Terry was willing to teach.
“So how ‘bout some time we go to Clydes?”
“That bar in Pointe-Claire village?”
“You go to bars? I mean, ok.”
“How ‘bout on Halloween? A whole bunch of us are gonna be there.”
“Isn’t Halloween a school night this year? I mean ok.”
“Aw’right. I’ll pick you up around 7. Cool?”
Terry then did the most amazing thing yet. He placed his hand under her chin and tipped her face upwards, then bent over her and placed his lips against hers, giving her the warmest, softest, most pleasant kiss she’d ever received. It was actually the only kiss she’d ever received, unless you counted the time she played spin the bottle in grade 6. This was definitely better. It was spectacular. She felt tingles spread across her lips and then down her body. A surge of heat swelled up in her chest and she felt her underwear moisten. She clenched her kegel muscles, privately embarrassed at being so aroused by just a little kiss.
Terry smiled when he leaned back. “Later,” he promised, walking away.
Cerise watched him go and touched her lips with the tips of her fingers. With that one kiss, her life had officially turned to awesome.